Hikoi for Healthy choices

Anne chapman started her walk from the top of the North Island of NZ to Wellington on the 12th December. Annie wants to see more healthy choices for people under mental health care.

We are supporting Annie in her walk to bring about change. You can see more details about her walk here on her blog.


Go Annie. Any extra funds raised are to be donated to the Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ, so we can continue to support voice hearers.



A Poem on Hearing Voices by Chris

My friend Ying, was at a poetry evening, and one of the guys read an amazing poem on hearing voices. She kindly asked Chris, if we could share it here and he agreed. So here it is. Hope you find it as powerful as I did.


Having mental illness in family can be hard but the rewards for over coming them are so much greater then overcoming simpler things.
When i was 17 i had my first psychotic episode, and since then iv’e been diagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia, bi-polar and depression, i hear voices, i have hallucinations and I have delusions
ahh Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

These days it starts with a gaze into the outer world, a blank stare into realms I’m not quite sure exist,
I can be staring at anything, such as, the alien species that hides trees
their limbs and their faces moved by the wind in such a way that they come to life
their waving hands simply stating “I see you, and I know you see me”
or I could be watching how the curtains breath at the pace of mother earths breath slowly hypnotizing me into a trance where I start to believe god himself has the curtains on strings or maybe
I’ll just be staring at the boring ground, where spiritual life reaps like you wouldn’t believe
as i walk with my head down i flow through a river of damned and tortured faces
lost souls trying to find peace and banished spirits trapped in purgatory trying to claw their way into me until
“Hey chris, got a spare smoke?”
“uh, uh yeah bro, help yourself”
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

The voices that i hear aren’t as bad as the media will have you believe, but theyre pretty bad.
Imagine having no privacy because the people sitting next to me can read your mind
They don’t tell you your thoughts to your face tho, they tell you outside and down the road a little bit.
Imagine having no secretes because i feel like I’m under constant inspection, I’m to scared to even think a bad thought because something listening
Imagine trying to go to sleep and somewhere outside, you can hear people talking about you..there’s
whispers in the wind and vocal cords seemingly attached to passing cars
ambient noises vocalized into the voice of fear,
rustling trees like gossiping woman
and people in the distance speaking my thoughts
and then i hear about people who say that they can hear gods voice, or that they heard demons or angels telling them things…
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me

The problem with mental illness is that the people who know most about it aren’t the doctors who’ve spent a life in school
it’s not your psychiatrist or the leading team of psychologists..
It’s the people, that are living with them, its the people, who hear voices, it’s the people who believe theyre being followed and that their lives are at stake,
It’s the people who at this very moment are suffering from diseases that should of be labeled gifts a long time ago its those people…
it’s those people that hold the answers, not someone who’s lived a straight edge life and only knows what the text book says cuz no matter how smart you are
and no matter how much you have studied, until you lose your mind and believe that you’re Jesus, you only know half the story
Life is just a dream, woawo, lucky you, lucky lucky me.

Dreams Visions and Realities, Video on ” the dreamtime”

 have just watched this excellent video, with an Aboriginal storyteller Bill Harney and Dr Stephen Aizenstat talking about the “dreaming”. In this context it not only includes night dreaming but also includes ” dreaming” during the day, or hearing from other “entities”, or the Dreamtime.

They offer some great insights that can also be applied to anyone hearing voices and having visions.

James King Exhibition- Paintings give an insight into a troubled mind

There is an excellent interview with James in the Weekend Herald today.
James King’s exhibition,  is Tapu Kehua, opening on Saturday 7 May at 3pm at The Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence Street, Devonport.
An emerging artist from Auckland, James has been attending Toi Ora Live Art Trust over the past few years.  This is his first major solo exhibition.
The exhibition will run until Thursday 19 May 2011.
Here is the article in the newspaper

Paintings give insight into troubled mind

By Sally Webster

10:15 AM Saturday May 14, 2011
 It was sad that as visitors pondered James King’s first major solo exhibition when it opened last weekend, the artist couldn’t be there.

While the former radio talkback host and producer waited months for the chance to fill Depot Artspace with his emotive paintings, he has waited a lot longer to get better. King has been plagued by mental illness for years and his recent secondment to Dunedin’s Ashburn Hall precluded his presence at the show.

So while he was busy working on his health, visitors to Devonport’s gallery were sipping wine and reading the emblazoned words: “The Anzacs died for your iPad.” Political commentary is strong in King’s work and he confronts his inner demons too, as depicted by dogs’ gnashed teeth in many colours. A propensity for softness comes through trickling lines that creep over clouded backgrounds of orange and aquamarine. Lashings of red play a pivotal role.

While some pieces were painted in Dunedin, most of the work was accomplished at Toi Ora Live Arts Trust in Grey Lynn. What was a haven that unveiled King’s artistic talent is officially “a unique shared creative space … for adults who have come in contact with mental health services”. Toi Ora general manager Erwin van Asbeck says it has been fascinating to watch King work.

“Together with his other areas of treatment, even just the discipline of coming and going at set times to a place to work on art has been a hugely healing and balancing process,” he says. “What’s been produced during James’ journey towards mental health is exceptional and it stands on its own two feet.”

On his last day of painting before heading south, King cut out the shapes of the Tapu Kehua for the exhibition. Absorbed with shaping the right curves of the “sacred ghost or spirit”, King offered his usual comic scepticism on the next few months in a “therapeutic community”.

“I might be back up within a week if I have to pass a hacky sack around the room as part of a group therapy practice. Seriously, I’ve encountered this once before and it was just too much.”

King, who was adopted, did not meet his birth mother until he was in his 20s. He says he always knew something was brewing inside him and certain things made more sense when he discovered his mother was schizophrenic. He was not fiercely beset by dark moods and voices until his radio career had taken off in his late 20s. Then-general manager of Newstalk ZB Bill Francis recalls meeting him as he started out.

“He came to me around the early 2000s and asked if I’d give him a chance on air. He clearly had a strong political leaning and could talk knowledgeably about it as well as a large range of social issues of the day. He showed empathy and could relate to a wide range of people.

“I saw him about once a week for more than three years and what was quite obvious was his considerable talent, rationale, curiosity and ability to think. What I also saw in him was a good person.”

But King began to develop difficulties with alcohol, sleeping and generally dealing with working at night. He left the company and moved to Wellington to do a journalism degree and produce more radio shows. But with personal issues including family bereavement to deal with, he was finally overwhelmed and hospitalised. There ensued a pattern common to many with mental illness who, like King, did not have a supportive family nearby at the end of a period of treatment in hospital. Without a place of further healing, the streets became home instead.

“You see the really ill people wandering the streets, picking cigarette butts from the ground. They’ve got dirt under their fingernails,” says King. “Mental illness at its worst can be people rifling through rubbish bins in the dead of night. It’s scary. I understand that. I don’t like those people … and I was one of them.”

King wanted to come out about his illness to make a concerted recovery and alter perceptions of the condition. Last year he worked on a Planet FM mental health radio show and during October’s Mental Health Week he held his first exhibition, MC’d a fundraising gig in Karangahape Rd and contributed these words to a poetry anthology:

This should not be my only option,

I will not live here; you must give me a room in the heart of life,

I will not survive under a bridge, at the dump, in a park,

at the margins in the dark.

I challenge you to come to me, to hold my hand, embrace my heart.

I challenge you to tell the truth, cast aside the angle, cut the hook, search for the marrow.


What: New Works by James King

Where and when: Depot Artspace, Devonport, to May 19 2011

“The Insatiable Moon”- a NZ Movie

I went and saw this movie on Sunday night. What a great movie it was too. Filmed around Grey Lynn and Ponsonby it is a movie based on the book by Mike Riddell. It is inspired by real experiences. At the heart of the film is a boarding house where ex psychiatric patients live, as the asylums have closed. Arthur, is one of these boarders. He says he hears the voice of God and that he is the second son of God.

A real gem. It is a film that has a very respectful way about it. Showing the importance of compassion in our material world.

You can see the review from the NZ Herald here here is an excerpt

And there were the twilight people: mainly men, they were the product of the new “community mental health” initiatives, unreliably medicated psychiatric patients living on benefits in the boarding houses that were a feature of the landscape.

Mike Riddell knows something of that demi-monde because he moved in it. A theologian by training, he was the vicar at the Ponsonby Baptist Church in Jervois Rd, a ministry in which he often rubbed shoulders with the psych patients. I recall a moving funeral service he conducted there for a childhood friend of mine, Alan Stimpson, a florid, gentle-giant schizophrenic who had taken his own life.

“People like Alan would have a social welfare grant to pay for their funeral,” Riddell recalls, “but it wasn’t enough. So we had an arrangement with an undertaker that he would lend us a coffin so we could put on a funeral and then they’d bury him in something more modest.

The Baptist system is a fairly miserable bloody denomination in some ways but the Ponsonby Baptist Church happened to be a group of people who were a bit more broadminded and interested in people. There was so much humanity and humour at those funerals. They were great.”

Just such a funeral is a central scene in The Insatiable Moon and it’s filmed at Ponsonby Baptist – “It was the director of photography’s decision because he liked the inside of the church,” says Riddell.

One character’s eulogy consists of repaying the deceased’s many kindnesses by laying a cigarette on the coffin lid. “That’s a tailor-made too,” she adds for emphasis.

So it goes without saying that The Insatiable Moon is a portrait drawn from life. Riddell wrote it as a novel and then, over several years, adapted it into the screenplay for the film which an opening title describes as “inspired by Arthur of Ponsonby”.

“Arthur lived in a boarding house that doesn’t exist any more down Shelly Beach Rd,” says Riddell. “He was a lovely guy, a big fella with long hair, who looked a bit like [Tuhoe prophet and activist] Rua Kenana. He was illiterate but very engaging and charismatic, a fluent Maori speaker.

“He used to come into the vicarage sometimes and ask me to tell people that he was the second son of God, so we used to have great conversations. And after one of those sessions I thought: ‘Gee, what if he is the second son of God? How would I know?’ And that was the creative spark for the story.”

To say that it sounds improbable, even banal, is to understate matters. But Riddell makes it work, both by his unforced skill as a writer and the deep humanity of the story.

The same humanity infuses the film, one of the most modest Kiwi flicks in a long time, but one that gets under your skin. A cast to die for includes Rawiri Paratene as Arthur (when people say “Lovely day”, he replies “Thanks. Glad you like it”; Sara Wiseman as Margaret, a social worker whose marital crisis puts her on a collision course with Arthur; a terrific Ian Mune as an unrepentant dero; and show-stealer Greg Johnson, as the cheerfully foul-mouthed and relentlessly good-hearted proprietor of the boarding house that is home to Arthur and the other psych patients. And the story, a winning mix of pathos, humour and, well, wonder, concerns the challenge posed to Arthur’s celestial pedigree when the boarding house is threatened with closure.”

 The official website is here http://www.theinsatiablemoon.com/

Here is the trailer

Spirit Possession, Theology and Identity- a Pacific Perspective.

Some of you may be interested in this book. I know I would like to read it.

See the details and introduction here on   http://www.atfpress.com/atf/images/toc_spirit_possession,_theology_and_identity.pdf  

 It talks about Maori and Samoan view of spirits, the Spirits in the bible, Spirits through the lens of history and theology. There are sections by Henare Tate,Helen Bergin, Laurie  , Elaine Wainwright and many others   The cover says this ”

Growing contemporary interest in spirit possession prompted eleven past and present faculty members of the University of Auckland’s School of Theology and 2 recent post graduate students to offer essays that explored the reality of spirit possession in Oceania today.”

 I think it is great to have a thorough exploration of a subject where a lot of people have only horror movies to use as reference of such an experience.  The truth will set you free…

Giving Voice to the Void

I read the keynote speech from Karlo Mila-Schaaf that she presented at the Building Bridges Conference in Wellington.

An inspiring story it tells of some of her own experiences , her diagnosis with mental illness and her recovery.

She has kindly allowed us to place it on our website. You can read it by clicking  here.

Here is a little excerpt:

How do you explain why voices are talking to you from under the floor? How do you make sense of dreaming in ways so real that it does not feel like a dream, that you are being burned or hung in front of a large, maddened crowd, in Mala’ekula every night? (Mala’e kula is the Tongan royal burial ground).
How do you explain having the voices of your friends and enemies in your head, saying things louder and clearer than anything else around you? How do you make explain the fact that you can hear the pigs and farmyard animals around your house in Tonga talking to you in ways that you understand?
How do you explain people’s faces contorting and shape-shifting into other things? The Maori psychiatric nurse, for example, who shakes his head and he turns into a ruru, an owl, right in front of you? None of this makes any sense according to anything you have ever known or understood to be true. When you see your grandmother kneeling on a tapa, greeting the sun and you run out of your house to see her, forgetting that she is dead, and wondering, when you run outside and see no one, you’re wondering, what is happening to you?

My sister told me that someone she knew was hearing voices and she didn’t know how to deal with it, or her. What was the best way to react, she asked me. I said to her, “Don’t tell her the voices are not real”. It’s not helpful. It never helped me. The voices were there. I could hear them. Being told that I was delusional was not helpful. It just undermined the truth of my own experience. “Tell her that that sounds very frightening,” I said. “Tell her, that if that was you, you’d be freaked and frightened and that she is being very brave, dealing with this, because it must be impossibly frightening to deal with.” I said to her, “Affirm her bravery and courage and agency in what must be one of the most difficult and frightening experiences she has ever had to confront.”

You know, I can’t think of any worse response to facing this kind of incredibly frightening situation and then being at the height of this vulnerability, the most vulnerable and frightened you will ever be in your life, being slammed with a diagnosis that then cages you and captures you and pins you to the ground, saying thou shalt never move from this spot again, you will never recover from this, and you are now doomed with a diagnosis that you will never escape from, or recover from, go to jail, do not pass go, you will never be normal again.

Because this is what we do to people who experience psychosis, who see things they shouldn’t be seeing and hear things they shouldn’t be hearing. We give them some kind of schizo diagnosis, to separate them out from the rest of us, and we leave them on the other side of that bridge”

To read it in its entirety, please click on the link above.

Jacqui Dillon Interview on Radio New Zealand with Kathryn Ryan

As many of you are already aware , the Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ is lucky to have Jacqui Dillon in New Zealand at the moment.

Jacqui Dillon is the chairperson for the Hearing Voices Network in UK ( where they have well over 150 support groups.) She is here for the Building Bridges Conference in Wellington this week. Next week she will be in Auckland for the ISPS  Conference.

Jacqui was interviews on the Nine to Noon programme. A great interview. She talks candidly about her own experience- what it is like for her to hear voices. She stresses the importance of understanding voices, explaining how she has been able to change her distressing voices to become of help to her.

A campaigner also for the abolition of the Schizophrenia label, Jacqui talks of how there is no physical test that proves that Schizophrenia is a brain disease, a chemical imbalance, or a genetic disposition. It is a set of symptoms that have become medicalised into something that is not helpful to many labelled with this name.

Listen to the interview here on the Radio New Zealand website  presented by Kathryn Ryan.